Keep Tennessee Income Tax-Free by Congressman Marsha Blackburn

October 31, 2014 2:29PM

It was one of those hot July days where we fought the heat and humidity outside the Tennessee State Capitol. The General Assembly was still in session and a fight was brewing inside the Senate Chamber. A Republican-led, Democrat-supported effort to raise taxes and put into place a disastrous state income tax was growing. Little did we know this was going to be the final showdown. We were told the state was in such an economic crisis that an income tax was the only way out. We were told we’d have to raise taxes, again, to keep the pace with other states. We were told Tennessee would forever lag behind the rest of the nation if we didn’t start collecting another tax on her citizens. After all, with a state income tax, people could deduct if from their federal income tax filing. What a deal! I’d had enough. The tax was first proposed on February 9, 1999 and I had been fighting it every day since then. The pro-tax crowd knew that only had to push to win one time. We had to win every battle in order to win the war.  I wasn’t going to shrink into my corner and take my orders from the highest elected Republican in the state. I had been elected to serve the 23rd District of the State of Tennessee and I took my orders from them, the people. They didn’t want a state income tax and they recognized how disastrous it would truly be. My constituents wanted a fiscally sound government that answered to them and their dollar. They didn’t want to keep sending money to Nashville to a state government that was growing too large and too quickly. They did not want to prop up a failed healthcare delivery program called TennCare. They wanted accountability and transparency. Joined by talk radio from around the state, rallying the troops, and calling on a few good friends, I asked for volunteers to come let their voice be known. Days grew to weeks, weeks to months, and over the years they rallied, honked, and took a stand with me and other conservative legislators against a state income tax. On that final showdown day, July 4,2002, we won the day and the Tennessee General Assembly went home with a balanced budget – passed, once again, without a state income tax. Today Tennessee is ranked as one of the top states in the nation to start and grow a business. Along with an exceptional credit rating, Tennessee has one of the lowest per-person debt burdens nationwide. Today’s General Assembly and our governor are cutting even more taxes for our citizens and leading the way in offering accountable service for the taxpayer dollar. All of this is possible because a few bold elected officials decided enough was enough. We knew we couldn’t tax our way to prosperity. We knew we would have to make tough choices with the budget and there would be more tough choices to come, but budgets are about priorities and making tough fiscal decisions. As voters head to the polls on Tuesday, they will make a decision on Amendment 3.  This amendment would make it crystal clear that the state’s constitution does not allow for the imposition of a state income tax.  This will allow our legislature to move forward on a firm and definitive footing, creating an even more certain environment for jobs growth and retention. Our citizens and businesses will never have to worry about being burdened by another bucket of taxes. -Congressman Marsha Blackburn